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Top 15 WordPress SEO Mistakes to Avoid

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After you create a website with WordPress CMS, you hope to see it in the top of SERP. But the risk that you’ve forgotten about basic website SEO is too high. In this post, we’ll talk about the 15 most common WordPress SEO mistakes and explain how to avoid them with specialized plugins and Netpeak Spider.


wordpress seo

1. Several Website Versions

After you create a website, there will be several addresses for it – with and without www. prefix, with HTTP and HTTPS (if you have already installed SSL certificate), and with and without a slash at the end of URL. It looks like they all are the same. We see all versions of a website as one, but search engines consider website versions as different websites duplicating one another. Website versions can worsen your website’s positions in SERP. To solve this problem, you need to set a redirection that will lead all visitors to one version of the website - the main one.


1.1. Server-Side Redirects Setting

  1. Open your website’s FTP.
  2. Find a catalog that contains WordPress system files. In most cases, it will be /public_html/.
  3. Find and open the .htaccess file. Use a usual text editor for this.
  4. Put the following code in the file and change yoursite to your website’s address:
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.yoursite\.(.*)$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yoursite.%1/$1 [R=301,L]
  5. Save changes and update the file.

By using this piece of code, you can set permanent 301 redirects that will lead visitors from all “mirrors” to the main version of the website – with HTTPS and without www.

If you’ve chosen any other website version as the main (for example, with HTTP or www.), we recommend you ask a web developer for correct instructions in the .htaccess file.


1.2. Redirects Final Check

By using Netpeak Spider, you can make sure that all redirects work correctly and your website is free of any duplicates. It will identify all existing duplicates within your website and show if there are any redirect issues or mixed content with a safe and unsafe protocol (it’s especially important after moving to HTTPS).

non https protocol


2. Awkward URL Structure

It can be totally considered as an issue and placed among the first ones in this list. You must fix it after CMS activation; otherwise, you’ll fill your website with thousands of nameless links and duplicates that will confuse you, your visitors and search engines robots.

One of the best solutions lays in checking one small box on the configuration page (“Settings” → “Permalinks”). You need to choose “Post name”, and the issue will be resolved once and for all.

post name

3. Absence of XML Sitemap

One of the main goals of search engine optimization is to make work easier for search robots and thus faster indexing. And the basic step to take to achieve this goal is to create an XML sitemap.

To create a sitemap and automatically put it in the root directory of your website, you need to use XML Sitemap & Google News plugin or Netpeak Spider “Sitemap Generator” tool. It will help you create custom sitemaps for pages and images.

sitemap generator

4. Misconfigured robots.txt File

One wrong directive or even a symbol in robots.txt instructions can limit your website’s presence in organic search results. To make the robots.txt file work correctly, look at our list of recommendations on how to deal with it:

  1. It is recommended to hide your website from search bots when you start its optimization. You can do so with Disallow: / directive.
  2. Do not hide from search robots any documents that affect your website’s appearance, .js and .css. files.
  3. Test your indexation instructions before launching the website. You can perform a simple check with Netpeak Spider “Virtual robots.txt” tool (“Settings” → “Virtual robots.txt”); it will show you what pages are visible to search engines. Just activate the tool and enable considering robots.txt indexation instructions.

5. Absence of Social Media Integration

Social engagement with your content is necessary both for your users and search engines that care about social signals. It’s all about social buttons (likes and shares), widgets and icons for a company’s social media public pages. Also, note that social activity inside your website is important not only in terms of usability but also in terms of organic search ranking.

Use the Jetpack plugin to add social media buttons and icons to your website.


6. Poorly Structured Texts

If you want the page rank to be higher, it’s not enough to collect all key phrases and put them in a text. Each text must be unique, useful for users and properly structured. It will affect the readability, the amount of time users spend on a page, and the website’s bounce rate.

Moreover, search engine robots pay attention to document markup and structuring elements that make a text more convenient and easy to understand:

  • bulleted or numbered lists
  • images
  • H1-H6 headings


7. Ignoring the Metadata

Title and Description are among the most important elements in SEO. Search engines use them to create snippets in organic search. A non-unique, incorrectly filled or even missing Title and Description can seriously harm your website’s SEO. To create metadata in a more convenient way, you can use one of the basic WordPress SEO plugins – YOAST SEO or All in one SEO Pack.


7.1. Requirements for Meta Title

  1. A title must reflect the main idea of the page.
  2. A title must be short but sweet.
  3. A title must be unique and not duplicate any other Title within your website.
  4. One page must contain only one Title.
  5. A title must be no less than ten and no more than 70 characters in length.
  6. A title must contain one of the main key phrases you want to use for this page ranking (if they do not contradict the main theme of the current page).

7.2. Requirements for Meta Description

  1. Main page Description must be at least 60 and no more than 320 characters in length. Description of any inner page should be about 160 characters long.
  2. A description must contain a key phrase that is preferable for current page ranking. It’s also important to make the description look organic.
  3. A description must be unique within the current website.
  4. One page can contain only one Description.

7.3. Title and Description Check

Use Netpeak Spider to check if you made Title and Description for each page properly. This tool will identify:

  • pages with missing Title and Description
  • Title and Description duplicates
  • pages with multiple Title and Description
  • too long or too short Title and Description

8. Not Optimized Images

Images are an essential part of the thoughtful and well-optimized content. But many beginner webmasters don’t think about optimizing images.

This is what you need to consider while optimizing images: keep them in optimal sizes and dimensions with user-friendly file names and descriptions inside ALT attribute.


8.1. Recommendations for Image Optimization on WordPress Websites

  1. Set image dimensions for 800x1024 px.
  2. Compress images before uploading them to the website. You can use online services like TinyPNG or install and activate plugins like Imagify. The perfect image size is less than 100 Kbytes.
  3. Always fill an ALT attribute field. ALT text can help explain what’s depicted in the image to search robots. It gives your website a higher chance of appearing in the image search. Don’t try to put as many key phrases as possible into ALT text: search engines don’t appreciate that.
  4. Make user-friendly names for images. Use only Greek numbers, Latin words, and hyphens.
  5. Turn off automatic generation of additional thumbnail images in standard sizes (300х300px; 150х150px). To do so, you should go to your website console and open “Settings” → “Media”. In this menu, you will find settings for standard thumbnails that are automatically generated by WordPress. If you don’t use them, set 0 in the image sizes boxes. It will save your website from dozens of useless image copies and reduce the load on the CMS.

8.2. Images Optimization Check

To find the main problems with image optimization, you need to:

  1. Launch Netpeak Spider.
  2. Put your website address in the address bar.
  3. Enable “Check images” option in the “Settings” menu.
  4. Save settings and start crawling.
  5. Open “Reports” → “Issues” in a sidebar and choose one of the issues to filter scanning results:
    1. Broken images
    2. Missing images ALT attributes
    3. Max image size
  6. Click on “Export” → “Current table results” to export filtered data.
current table results
Also, you can use a special report “Images without ALT attributes”.
Images without ALT attributes

9. Neglecting rel=Canonical Attribute

Rel=canonical has an important place in search optimization regardless of the CMS. This also applies to websites built on WordPress, whose owners often forget about setting canonical pages.

Rel=canonical allows you to show search engines the pages preferred for indexing and to regulate link juice distribution within a website. The easiest way to do it on WordPress is to use YOAST. You just need to open the “Advanced” tab and set canonical page in the lower field of YOAST settings panel.

advanced tab

While optimizing your website, remember about proper rel=canonical implementation. You can use Netpeak Spider for that because it will detect for you all the issues of rel=canonical and show what pages attribute connects.

canonical

Tool detects rel=canonical issues such as:

  • Canonical chain
  • Canonical blocked by robots.txt
  • Duplicate canonical URLs
  • Missing of empty Canonical
missing canonical

10. Irregular Content Publishing

If you want to make search robots and visitors come back repeatedly, publish your content regularly: search engines love it! Don’t expect your website to get on top in SERP on its own.


11. Not Implementing Schema and OpenGraph Structured Data

Microdata is a set of structured data that allows expanding information about a webpage in SERP or social media. For example, Schema glossary is responsible for snippets view in organic search, and OpenGraph helps you to edit snippet view in social media. You can set some structured data parameters on your own; these are the tools you’ll need:

  1. Free plugins YOAST (basic SEO plugin), Breadcrumb NavXT (breadcrumbs plugin), All In One Schema Rich Snippets (Schema plugin) and Open Graph for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter Card Tags (OpenGraph plugin).
  2. Tools for structured data check from Google, Yandex and Facebook.

12. Broken Links

In the process of website improving and optimization, broken links will appear occasionally. Their presence on your website has a bad influence on website SEO and usability. So, you need to check your website regularly to detect broken links and get rid of them. To find any technical optimization problems including broken links, it will be enough to crawl your website with Netpeak Spider. The software will find all the broken links and identify them as critical issues.

broken links

13. Absence of Links in Footer

Remember to place links into main categories, strategically important pages and social media public pages in a footer. You can make it in a basic visual editor (“Appearance” → “Customize”) using special widgets in the footer settings.


14. Poor Internal Linking

Good internal linking helps balance link juice distribution within a website and improves navigation for the users. By ignoring it, you maximize the chance of the “dead end” pages or pages with excessive weight appearing. For example, some maintenance pages have more incoming links than others, and at the same time, some strategically important pages have no incoming links at all. To avoid such imbalance, we recommend you:

  1. Think over navigation elements (menu, links in the footer, breadcrumbs).
  2. Add blocks with related articles (“you also can like”, etc.).
  3. Put links to thematically linked pages in text.

14.1. Internal Linking Check

You can reveal link juice distribution problems using “Internal PageRank Calculation” tool in Netpeak Spider. It allows you to see all “dead ends”, “orphans” and pages with no outgoing links.

To find all of them, you need to:

  1. Launch Netpeak Spider.
  2. Tick a box with “links” in a sidebar (“Parameters” tab).
    links
  3. Paste your website’s URL into an address box and start crawling.
  4. Wait for crawling and heavy data analysis to end.
  5. Go to “Reports” → “Issues” tab in a sidebar and click on a name of chosen PageRank issue to filter problem pages of your website.
    reports issues tab
  6. If necessary, export filtered data. Open “Export” menu and select “Current table results”.

15. No Google Analytics and Google Search Console Integration

If your website has to not only function as visit card but also serve various complex functions, you are unable to do without GA and GSC integration. The first one will provide you reliable information about your audience behavior and traffic sources, and help you achieve conversation goals, and the other will give you useful insights that are valuable for technical website optimization.


Summary

Most beginner webmasters make a number of mistakes that negatively affect search engine optimization. Here are some of the most common issues:

  • Awkward URL structure
  • Several website versions
  • Absence of XML sitemap
  • Misconfigured robots.txt file
  • Absence of social media integration
  • Poorly structured texts
  • Ignoring the metadata
  • Not optimized images
  • Neglect of rel=canonical attribute
  • Irregular content publishing
  • Not implemented Schema and OpenGraph structured data
  • Broken links
  • Absence of links in the footer
  • Poor internal linking
  • No Google Analytics and Google Search Console integration

The problems described above can be solved with some free plugins and Netpeak Spider that will check if the website is correctly optimized.


website themes

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